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First Saudi woman to enter space on a 10 day mission

The group are travelling in the SpaceX 9 rocket.

Rayyanah Barnawi, a stem cell researcher, has become the first women from Saudi Arabia to go to space.

The ticket-holding crew made up of four was made available by SpaceX. It is led by a retired NASA astronaut who works for the company. The other two passengers include a US businessman and Ali al-Qarni, a fighter pilot with the Royal Saudi Air Force.

The group are travelling in the SpaceX 9 rocket which launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

They’re the first from their country to ride a rocket since a Saudi prince launched aboard shuttle Discovery in 1985. The group of four will be on a 10-day mission to the international space station.

Barnawi was honoured to be the first woman from the kingdom to enter space she told reporters before the flight took off.

“Being the first Saudi woman astronaut, representing the region, it’s a great pleasure and honour that I’m very happy to carry,” she said.

Arriving at the ISS on Monday, the SpaceX crew will join Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut, and US pilot John Shoffner on a mission organised by private space company Axiom Space.

Axiom will not say how much Shoffner and Saudi Arabia are paying for the planned 10-day mission. The company had previously cited a ticket price of $83 million each.

The guests will have access to most of the station as they conduct various experiments and photograph Earth.

NASA has recently embraced space tourism with two private missions planned a year.

PHOTO: “NASA” by NASA is available HERE and used under a Creative Commons License. This photo has not been modified.

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